As a producer and an audio engineer I tend to always get the same question. Can I achieve studio quality sound with my home setup? The short
answer is no. But, there are certain things you can do to get pretty close.
Other than all high end gear, one major difference between a professional recording studio and a home set up is the acoustics. Our
studio’s build out alone was almost the same cost as all of our gear.
Having your room built by somebody who not only understands construction but also understands acoustics is essential.Choosing the right sound insulation, bass traps, flooring etc. will all play a role in how your mixes sound later.
Your neighbors will be thankful too. Having somebody how understands sound will not only help the room sound great but will also stop sound from leaking out. (sound proofing)
Now I understand many of you aspiring producers and engineers are not able to 100% rebuild your
room but there is a work around; KNOW YOUR ROOM!
Every room sounds different. Each environment has its own sweet spots and weak points, ground noise etc. Weather you have a semi treated home studio or you’re recording in your bathroom or mixing a song on the go, being familiar with how your room affects your sound is crucial.
One quick tip is to choose a good reference song to learn your room. Choose a song that you are familiar with that you have heard plenty of times and listen to how it sounds in each environment and you will soon start to get a better understanding of how they affect a mix.
Every time I test a new pair of speakers, a new room or a new pair of headphones one of my go to references is The Chronic 2001 by Dr. Dre. I love the sonics on that album and it’s one I know very well. Despite being released in 1999 it still sonically competes with records being released today.
Even though i have access to a professional recording studio, more often than not I seem to make my best music and achieve some of my best mixes from home. How is this possible you may ask? The answer is knowing your environment.
For example I know that at my home set up I have an issue with my high end not sounding clear enough and my low end not being loud enough. I would be at home mixing and I would make sure that the high end was nice and clean, and the low end was thick but not too loud.
Then, I would get in my car to listen and the high end of the track would be way too crispy and the low end would be BUMPING way too loud. Then, I would listen through either some iphone headphones, laptop speakers and other devices to get a better understanding of mix.
So after months and years of listening to my mixes between my home set up, the car, the professional studio, pro headphones, iphone headphones, bluetooth speakers, laptop speakers & phone speakers, I finally found the perfect balance and now understand my room.
In my home set up, if the bass sounds pretty much level with the rest of the music it means that its KNOCKING! and if my high end sounds almost “there” but not too crisp, it means its PERFECT.
Your ear will adapt over time and not only will it help you to understand your room, it will also help you better understand how sound works overall which will lead you to better mixes/ sound quality.
Stay tuned for the 2nd addition to this blog for the next way to help you achieve that studio quality sound from home. In the mean time you can get your song mixed by one of our professional recording engineers at PLYBCK Studios on our “online services” tab.
For those that are interested in going the more expensive route and want to acoustically treat their room the proper way, I will leave a list of links to some trusty providers of materials you may need to treat your room. It will be best to “float” your room and acoustically treat your floors.
At our studio we use “Flooring Kings” for the best prices on wood/vinyl floors. I would also recommend using the best acoustic underlayment to go under your floors such as this.
If you decide build your studio from the ground up we recommend using the proper wall treatments/insulation. Rockwool never fails make sure you choose the right thickness. You dont have to build your room from scratch, you can also treat your room with acoustic panels such as the ones found here.
One of the most overlooked acoustic treatments is plain old furniture. A big sofa or chairs can help dampen room reflections. Carpet, curtains, blankets, rugs etc. can all help tame a room.
Some other things to consider are your windows & doors and your conditioning unit/fan. You should treat your windows and seal off your doors for sound proofing. It will help stop sound from traveling both in and out.
Having a noise free air conditioning unit and keeping the vents away from the microphone will allow you to record with the a/c on. For the rest of us you can just turn the air off when you are ready to record or mix and can do so from an app on your phone if you get a control unit like this.
Sound tends to build up in the corners of a room which makes the need for bass traps crucial to your home studio. See this bass trap as an example.
Tuning your room will be very beneficial to your sound quality. We will discuss this more in a later article but you can learn more at Rational Acoustics and check out some of their products and software to help you tune your room.
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